Thursday, 5 December 2013

Spotlight: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts 
 Unvarnished (2013 Blackhearts Records Group)

What a GREAT album Unvarnished by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is. A few more listens and I'll be thoroughly convinced it's a perfect album. Wonderful background music for parties or any other feel good occasion. Joan's lyrics might be more mature, the messages more grown up, but the sound is classic Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. So much so that if you LIKE their early material, you'll LOVE Unvarnished. These new tracks successfully capture the essence of the bands early days. Produced by Joan Jett & Kenny Laquna. Joan also does swell by obtaining two full writing credits, and seven co-writing. And that's out of ten songs. The first track is a NEW Joan Jett & The Blackhearts greatest hit called Any Weather (606 Version). Cool video as well. Penned by Joan and Dave Grohl (Nirvana / Foo Fighters). Oh, and how's this for cool. On the songs credits for Any Weather (606 Version), Dave is credited with playing, “100 different instruments.”

The second song on the new album is called TMI. Yet another new greatest hit. A catchy chorus. A good beat. Joan & The Blackhearts are a well-oiled machine who know how to rock. Mostly uptempo rockers on Unvarnished, which I enjoy. The somewhat slower tunes (Everyone Needs A Hero) are enjoyable as well. And get this...besides the excellence of the musicians being focused on, Joan and The Blackhearts changes up things slightly with the addition of violins, cello, and the viola. Can be found in two out of the ten songs: Fragile / Everybody Needs A Hero.

The Blackhearts: Polished...Tommy Price on drums and percussion really stand out. Dougie Needles guitar work (also backing vocals) makes every song memorable. Kenny Laguna is a name associated with Joan Jett since she left The Runaways. His contribution here equal to or surpassing any previous work...and that's saying a lot. Finishing up, playing a killer bass is Acey Slade (Murderdolls / TrashLight Vision).
Hidden Message – After the last song, you will notice the time counter still proceeding forward. It's cool...just let it go and sooner or later you will hear Joan say the words:


Rating: Using the one to five star rating system, I'd be crazy giving anything less then 5 stars to this excellent record. Cool for me...Best Buy had a version that contained some newly recorded greatest hits and a new song from Unvarnished such as TMI. Sounds just as good in a live setting, if not better than the studio recording. Kicks ass as a matter of fact. Just like the new Joan Jett & The Blackhearts album Unvarnished.
Gary Brown

US Correspondent for Classic Rock Radio (Dot EU)

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